Gutenberg, Johannes (Gensfleisch) 1400 – 1468 (古腾堡，约翰尼斯)
Printer; regarded as the inventor of movable-type mechanical printing in Europe. Born Johann Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg, circa 1400, in Mainz, Germany. Little is known of Gutenberg’s early life. The son of wealthy parents, he was probably apprenticed to a goldsmith and also learned the trade of gem cutting as a young man living in Mainz. Between 1428 and 1430, he moved to Strassburg (now Strasbourg, France) for political reasons, and would live there for almost 20 years.
It was in Strasbourg that Gutenberg most likely began the work that would eventually make him famous, though not in his lifetime, as the father of the printing press and one of the most influential people in the history of Western society. He realized that the traditional methods of handwriting manuscripts or even the early printing techniques of xylography (printing from woodcarvings) could not satisfy the great demand for printed material. For his method of mechanical printing, Gutenberg eventually combined features of such existing technologies as wine presses and textile and papermaking devices with a system of movable metal type, which consisted of over 300 characters. Each character was carved in soft metal, molded, and cast in a molten alloy of lead, antimony, and tin. This method of printing from movable type was used, without significant change, until the twentieth century.
It is not known exactly how far Gutenberg got in his work with movable type by the time he left Strasbourg. In late 1438, the heirs of one of his business partners sued him; they lost the suit, but the trial revealed that Gutenberg was working on a new invention, presumably the printing press, that he clearly wanted to keep secret. By late 1448, Gutenberg was back in Mainz, where he borrowed money from a relative to continue his work. In 1450, he received a substantial loan from Johann Fust, a wealthy financier; Fust later loaned Gutenberg even more money.
Gutenberg most likely completed his printed masterpiece, the 42-Line Bible, by 1455 at the latest. The 42-Line Bible, like all of Gutenberg’s typographic productions, was never attributed to him during his lifetime, but it later became known as the Gutenberg Bible. Many of the details of Gutenberg’s work became known to historians through records of a lawsuit that Gutenberg lost against Fust and Peter Schöffer, a calligrapher and Fust’s future son-in-law. Records of the case, dated November 6, 1455, indicated that Gutenberg was the designer of the press. Though it has been estimated that the sale of the Bible would have produced many times the necessary sum owed to Fust by Gutenberg, it was inexplicably not counted among the latter’s assets at the trial.
The court awarded Fust control of the type for the Bible and for Gutenberg’s other major work, a Psalter (the traditional English term for a book of psalms), as well as at least some of Gutenberg’s other printing equipment. The first printed book in Europe to bear the name of its printer was a fine Psalter produced in August 1457 by Fust and Schöffer. Most historians agree that it was Gutenberg who had most likely developed the techniques used to produce the Psalter before he lost control of his equipment in November 1455. Strong evidence to support Gutenberg’s claim to the invention of typography came not only from the trial records but from Schöffer’s son and Fust’s grandson, Johann Schöffer, who wrote in 1505 that “the admirable art of typography was invented by the ingenious Johan Gutenberg at Mainz in 1450. (From 1509 on, Johann
Schöffer became one of Gutenberg’s chief detractors, however, claiming that his own father and grandfather were solely responsible for the invention.)
Gutenberg himself was forced to start over. He is believed to have produced at least several further works over the next decade, including the Catholicon, an encyclopedia. In January 1465, Gutenberg began receiving a pension from the archbishop of Mainz, including an annual measure of food and clothing and exemption from certain taxes. He died on February 3, 1468, and was buried in Mainz’s Franciscan church.
约翰内斯·古腾堡(Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg，又译作古腾堡、古登堡、古滕贝格)，约1400年出生于德国美因兹，1468年2月3日逝世于美因兹，是第一位发明活字印刷术的欧洲人，他的发明引发了一次媒介革命。其印刷术在欧洲迅速传播，并被视为欧洲文艺复兴在随后兴起的关键因素。他的主要成就——《古腾堡圣经》，享有极高的美学及技术价值之美名。